By Lali Stander
Most golfers would be seriously frustrated to shoot 20 over par in a 54-hole championship and even more so if you are ranked among South Africa’s top three amateurs.
Yet, Zethu Myeki from Border wore a great, big smile after a tie for 30th in her debut in the Ladies Joburg Open on the Sunshine Ladies Tour in early January.
Myeki vaulted from 55th to third in the senior national rankings during a standout 2015 season, but rounds of 78, 76 and 82 at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington’s West Course were nowhere near the numbers the reigning Border Stroke Play champion was shooting last year.
So what exactly left Myeki so chipper? And why is she still so upbeat ahead of this week’s Ladies Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club?
“I was pretty frustrated in the first round, but Nobuhle Dlamini put things into perspective for me,” the Ernie Els and Fancourt Foundation member explained.
“We played together and I told her that I was working on some changes to my swing and putting stance. Nobuhle told me that I had to focus on the changes I was making.
“Nobby spent the better part of a year rebuilding her swing and she is only now starting to shoot the kind of numbers that took her to the number one spot amateur in South Africa.
“I think when someone like Nobby, who rose to third in the world amateur golf rankings, tells you that you have what it takes, you should listen. I’m smiling I have a clear idea of what I am working towards and I started seeing some improvements in round three, even if that was my worst day.”
Working through changes takes time and patience, but the commitment paid off for Dlamini when she regained her card for the 2016 Ladies European Tour at the Final Stage Qualifier in December.
“I spent most of 2015 changing my swing to gain more distance and accuracy,” Dlamini explained.
“I told Zethu that a week before Q-School I shot rounds of 83, 89 and 79 in the SA Women’s Open, but I never doubted the changes I made and I trusted the process in Morocco. And this after I finished 15th overall after shooting 35 over at San Lameer.
“I explained to Zethu that it takes time for changes like this to become an automatic part of your game. Your body fights you and wants to go back to what it knows. I told her that she needs to practice the changes over and over for it to become a positive habit.”
Myeki arrived at the Ladies Joburg Open on the back of attending Womens Golf South Africa’s first Elite Squad camp.
“Kaleigh Telfer, Ivanna Samu, Shawnelle de Lange, Woo-Ju Son, Danielle du Toit and I attended the camp at the HPC TuksSport Golf Academy,” Myeki said.
“We all went through short-game drills, chipping and putting with our national coach Val Holland and we were put on Trackman to evaluate our swings. I’ve been struggling with driving distance and hitting a fade.
“The Trackman showed that I was opening the clubface and Val gave me drills to help me keep the clubface closed through the swing. I also started working on putting drills at the Ladies Joburg Open, because I stood to far back in my putting stance and I didn’t have my eyes over the ball.”
Myeki and Dlamini will both line up in the Ladies Tshwane Open at Pretoria Country Club from 2-4 February, but while Dlamini contested the Chase to the Investec Cup for Ladies at Houghton, where she finished joint seventh, Myeki spent the last week working her game at home.
“I’m looking forward to see how I go this week, plus, we have the Eastern Province Championship straight after the Ladies Tshwane Open and I’m hoping to do a lot better than last year’s 18th place,” Myeki said.
“Hopefully I will see some progress, but I will be keeping my expectations realistic. Like Nobby said, the numbers don’t matter, it’s the long-term benefits that are important.”
(Photo by Carl Fourie)